Swedish photographer Jannica Honey to stage inaugural solo exhibition at Edinburgh’s Arusha Gallery
When the Blackbird Sings focuses on the female body and its links with nature, depicting naked women of all ages as well as poetic shots of flowers in water. The subjects are family, friends and acquaintances of the artist, always posing outdoors and at twilight.
Honey shot the images over the course of a whole year, exclusively on every full and new moon, starting at the October 2016 supermoon. The work aims to channel the earth’s natural rhythms into the photos, as a way of reflecting her - and the sitters’ - reconnection to womanhood in a process they described as a transformative, sometimes healing experience.
It is named after the bird which signals twilight with a song; while shooting the series Honey was stricken by the song’s memento mori-undertones. Honey shot across Scotland and Sweden to illustrate her attachment to both her adoptive and home countries.
The series began when Honey felt compelled to reaffirm her own ‘feminine voice’ in the face of personal challenges and male-dominated political events - in particular the recent death of her grandmother and the US elections. By basing her shooting schedule on moon cycles - an intrinsic feminine rhythm - Honey channeled the earth’s natural rhythms into her work, and explored her own reconnection to womanhood.
The resulting photographs unveil lyrical still lifes alongside delicate moments of tenderness and unashamed femininity, and celebrate the beauty of the female form at any age. While some of the sitters are smiling directly at the camera, others look away, almost blending into the surrounding setting of moss and trees. The colourful flowers, including daisies and passion flowers, are captured resting on the surface of Edinburgh’s Water of Leith.
Shooting at twilight allowed Honey to challenge the limitations of her chosen medium, in part for the time constraint (it only lasts 15-20 minutes before darkness takes over), but also for the particular blue hue the light takes on during this brief interlude.
While most photographers consider it unflattering for their subject matter and avoid it, Honey explores its potential to offer a glimpse of an ephemeral moment in the 24 hour-cycle. When the Blackbird Sings also delves into the significance and symbolism of dusk and explores the ethereal quality of twilight; an in-between moment which does not belong to day or night, and which she sees as an emotional, reflective pause in her day.
Honey’s work is often concerned with the female body and the place of women in society. In 2011 she spent two months photographing Edinburgh strippers, providing a candid and sensitive insight into a world rarely captured.
Honey is a successful commercial photographer whose previous work focuses on fashion, journalism and music photography. Her award-winning images has been published in The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Vogue, Dazed & Confused, Aesthetica Magazine. In 2013 she spent time in the Kahnawaka Mohawk reservation in Canada, working on a photography project related to identity and belonging.